Breach of Contract: the Conflict of Interest Clause

Headlines in Toronto and across the GTA have been buzzing lately about major scandals for two of Canada’s pillars of journalism – Global and the CBC. Two of the country’s most visible TV news anchors, Leslie Roberts (Global) and Amanda Lang (CBC), have become embroiled in ethics scandals that also involve breach of contract law.

It was revealed in recent media reports that Leslie Roberts was part owner of a PR firm that just so happened to represent many of the guests he hosted and interviewed on his show, effectively plugging his PR clients on the news. Reports claim that Ms Lang, the CBC’s Senior Business Correspondent, was involved in a romantic relationship with Gordon Nixon, President & CEO of RBC. While providing favourable coverage and helping to scuttle a colleague’s story about a scandal at the bank, she received lucrative speaking engagements.

Leslie Roberts has resigned as a result and in his case an internal probe by Global TV determined there was a breach of his employment contract – specifically with regard to the conflict of interest clause.

Conflict of Interest Clause

It is common for employment contracts to contain a conflict of interest clause. From the employer’s point of view, it protects their interests and ensures that employees are not engaged in any activities that undermine their primary duties to their employer.

From the point of view of the employee it may not always be so clear. Sure, an affair, suppression of a news story and favourable coverage in exchange for lucrative gigs and clientele – most of us would agree these constitute rather obvious examples of conflict of interest. It’s the public’s interest – both as viewers and the consumers of journalism and in the case of the CBC, the people who are filling their wallets – which they are supposed to uphold. It comes as no surprise to find out that a report in the Montreal Gazette rates journalists among the least trusted of professions.

However, issues around conflict of interest can be far more subtle and may appear innocuous at first glance.

  • Accepting gifts from a supplier, even something as seemingly innocent as an invitation to a party can be construed as conflict of interest.
  • Any personal relationships – including casual friendships – may come under scrutiny.

Let Us Help Before You Sign

The best time to get any contractual issues sorted out is before you sign on the dotted line. Let us help you sort out the issues and any potential conflicts you might encounter, along with any other questions you may have. A full and complete understanding of your employment contract is your best protection against future problems.

  • Let our experienced employment contract/breach of contract lawyers help you make sure that you know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.

If you are already working under a contract and issues have come up, don’t hesitate – you need expert legal advice. You’ll need the help of experienced breach of contract lawyers.  If you think your rights under a contractual agreement are being disregarded contact Petrillo Law today or call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced contract lawyer.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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